Author: Rachel Ward
Genre: YA, Suspense
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: YA (#16)
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money and will donate it to my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap): Since the day her mother died, Jem has known about the numbers. Numbers that pop into her head when she looks into someone's eyes. They're dates, teh numbers. Dates predicting with brute accuracy each person's death. Burdened by such grim knowledge, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. Maye they can find happiness together, if only in the brief time that remains before his expiration date. But on a trip to London, Jem foresees a chilling chain of events. The city's a target. The clock's running out. The countdown is on to a blowup!
Review: I had read (well, skimmed) quite a few reviews of this book and wasn't sure it was a good one for my school library so I bought it myself to give it a test read. It's going in our collection! I really enjoyed this book and read it in two sittings! I also thought it might be something like the TV show "Numb3ers", which I really liked.
I don't really like the description of the plot from the inside flap. It doesn't do the book justice and, I think, puts the emphasis on the wrong part of the story. I am not going to go into too much detail on the plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
Jem does indeed see numbers (death dates) when she looks into someone's eyes so she avoids eye contact. She lives in foster homes, doesn't like school, is weary of relationships with friends, teachers, other adults or anyone else who comes into her life. It is while she is skipping school (again) that she meets up with Spider, also someone who isn't into school. I liked the way the author built up their relationship slowly, showing how Jem lets Spider in one small step and a time. Even though she allows herself to open up to him, she backslides, which is so normal.
I liked the way the plot developed as well. I was pulled along with just enough information to make me read "just one more chapter" to see what happens. While I read I felt like some of it was just to unrealistic (ok, forget the fact that she sees death dates) and beyond what two fifteen-year olds would really do. But then I caught myself and realized there are all sorts of people out there who get themselves into situations that are really beyond their control and you never know just how you are going to act. So, I let my disbelief go and just enjoyed the ride.
The concept of this book could be such a depressing one: knowing other people's death dates (she doesn't know her own). But, that just happens to be a power that Jem has. It isn't the end all of the book; it's the catalyst for the rest of the story. And, I really enjoyed that.
Would you want to know your death date or that of people you love? Why or why not?